LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Red Cross has tips for preventing kitchen fires as Arkansas closes in on the holiday cooking season.

Thanksgiving is an active time for kitchen fires. According to Red Cross statistics, Thanksgiving and the day before are the two biggest days for household kitchen fires.

“Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, home fire injuries and the second leading cause of home fire deaths,” Lori Arnold-Ellis, executive director of the American Red Cross serving Greater Arkansas, said.

Arnold-Ellis most fires take place because people leave their cooking unattended.

Red Cross offers these tips to minimize kitchen fire risk:

  • • Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food, and turn off the stove if you have to step away, even for a short time.
  • • Use a timer to remind that a stove or oven is on.
  • • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from cooking areas.
  • • Keep anything that can catch fire, such as potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains, away from your stovetop and oven or any other heat-generating appliance.
  • • Clean cooking surfaces regularly to prevent grease buildup.
  • • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen.
  • • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to make sure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.

Red Cross also recommends smoke alarms near the kitchen and sleeping areas. If purchasing or installed a smoke alarm is a challenge, programs are available to help through the local Red Cross. has more information on home fire safety, including the importance of a fire escape plan should the worst occur.